Athletes and others planning for surgery know to expect physical therapy as part of their rehabilitation plan. What they may not know is that physical surgery before their surgery, or “prehabilitation,” has also been proven to be beneficial. Let’s look at what most people do know first:
Depending on the type of surgery that you have had, your body will need time and physical therapy to get back into shape. This can help to:
- Increase your range of motion
- Strengthen your muscles, which could be in danger of atrophying if they are not used
- Teach you how to walk again or how to accomplish necessary daily physical tasks
- Help elevate your mood and prevent the post-op blues by releasing endorphins
- Increase circulation, which speeds your body’s healing response
At True Sports, we work with many elite athletes as well as recreational athletes (our weekend warriors) who have undergone surgery for a variety of injuries. The most common hurdles (excuse the pun) our athletes have had to overcome include surgeries for torn ACLs, rotator cuff injuries, broken bones, Achilles tendonitis, metatarsal fractures, chronic ankle instability, meniscus tears, patella instability (dislocated kneecaps), spondylolisthesis (fractured bones in the lower back that press on nerves if left untreated), hamstring tears — and many more.
The physical therapists at True Sports, all of whom have doctorate degrees, assess your mobility and offer strategies to help with range of motion and improve endurance, cardiac function, strength, and balance. We get you moving. We help you feel better with the ultimate goal of restoring your maximum functional independence.
What you may NOT know is that we also work with athletes before their surgeries. Just as with post-op rehabilitation, there are many advantages to pre-op prehabilitation:
- It can build muscle so that you don’t have such a long journey ahead of you post-surgery.
- It can stabilize your pain.
- Low-intensity exercise can improve circulation, which will speed healing later on.
- It can help you with gait training so that you are more equipped to work with assistive devices like crutches or walkers when the surgery is over.
- It can give you peace of mind before surgery, as you will feel mentally and physically prepared for what is to come.
- It can shorten hospitalization time for you post-surgery (which will lessen the strain on your emotions and your pocketbook!).
- It can reduce your recovery time. In fact, a 2014 study by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) found that without prehab, 79.7% of patients needed post-acute care services after surgery. However, with prehab, only 54.2% of them did. The use of preoperative physical therapy was “associated with a significant 29% reduction in post-acute care use,” which in turn led to financial savings on medical costs.
- In some cases, insurance companies may not cover pre-surgical physical therapy, although because it is in their financial interests for your hospitalization time and recovery time to be reduced as a result, most of them do. If you find that you have only a limited amount of physical therapy approved, even one or two visits before surgery can help. We can teach basic stretching and conditioning exercises that you can do at home.
- One study cited by the Mayo Clinic found that in a group of those who had physical therapy before ACL surgery, the average recovery time was 34.2 weeks, compared to 42.5 weeks in the group that did not exercise before surgery. These results supported their conclusion that “physical therapy prior to ACL surgery can be beneficial to the recovery process.”
- Working with your physical therapist before surgery can help establish a rapport and familiarity with the facilities and with your regimen. If you wait to do this until after your surgery, you may not be in the best situation to focus and remember exercises. (Post-surgery “brain fog” can sometimes last for weeks.)
Both pre- and post-surgery physical therapy are important elements in your journey to strength and fitness. Both prehabilitation and rehabilitation are opportunities for you to be proactive in your recovery.
Before choosing a physical therapist, understand where their specialties lie. True Sports Physical Therapy specializes in catering to the elite athlete but holds levels of experience in treating shoulder, hip, knee, neck, and back pain–both before and after surgery.
Plan ahead: Make an appointment at one of our seven convenient locations in the Greater Baltimore area: Call (410) 514-3297